Musings of an Orthodox Jew

Thoughts on Torah and the Jewish world today.

Parshah Va’era 5770

This weeks Parsha is Va’era Shemot (Exodus) Chapter 6:2-9:35

I am back to the normal schedule:  Question will be posted Monday and the answer on Friday morning.  Feel free to discuss or answer in the comments.

1) What phrase, used more than 70 times in the Torah, is used for the first time in this weeks Parshah?
2) At the start of the Parshah G-d says to Moshe: .

I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob with [the name] Almighty God, but [with] My name YHVH, I did not become known to them. ג. וָאֵרָא אֶל אַבְרָהָם אֶל יִצְחָק וְאֶל יַעֲקֹב בְּאֵל שַׁדָּי וּשְׁמִי יְ־הֹוָ־ה לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם:

What is meant by this comparison and in what way is it a rebuke of Moshe?

The answer to the firstquestion is the verse:

10. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, י. וַיְדַבֵּר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר:

When it comes to the second question:

Ramban remarks that the name “El Shaddai” that is used with the patriarchs is the name the promises were made under but the promises were not yet fulfilled. It is also a name in which the miracles that occured were a manipulation of nature alone and nothing new was brought into existence under that name. On the other hand Moshe knew G-d under the name YHVH, the name under which the promises would be fulfilled. This name is also one under which miracles which include totally new creations can be brought. We see this in some of the plagues in this weeks parshah: The lice were created from dust- something completely outside of nature and involving a new creation; the hail combined fire and ice- a new creation outside of nature.

How was this a rebuke to Moshe? G-d was saying to Moshe- “The Avot who only heard promises and never saw them fulfilled; the Avot who only saw miracles within the bounds of nature, never questioned me or asked for my name. How can you, the one through whom the promises will be fulfilled and who has already seen me performing miracles outside of nature (the burning bush that did not burn) question me?”

Another rebuke here was that as the Avot only “knew” the name of El Shaddai (they knew the YHVH name as well, we see it in Bereishis, the implication here is that they only related to the El Shaddai name) their prophecy was likewise limited- like other prophets they needed to prepare for prophecy and only received it at specific times. Moshe who “knew” the name YHVH had prophecy at a much higher level- he did not need to prepare to receive prophecy and could talk to G-d at any time. Thus G-d is rebuking him saying
“the Avot had much lower prophecy, their prophecy was indistinct and unclear. You, whose prophecy is much higher, who sees clearly, doubt abnd question when they had the faith to accept even though they could not see the details.

Another way the sages put this is: All the prophets saw their prophecy as if through a smoky lens; Moshe’s prophecy was clear as seen through a clean lens

There is a lesson we can all learn from this. We all have levels we reach in our lives; we get faced with challenges, problems, decisions to be made. We can decide for ourselves from this- are we going to accept what Hashem has decreed? Are we going to inspect ourselves, our deeds, continue to look at improving ourselves and our connection to G-d or are we rather going to question Hashem; seek to challenge him for what we perceive as broken or unfulfilled promises? This rebuke of Moshe is saying we should always be doing the first- that we should accept that some things are beyond our understanding or abiltiy to perceive and that G-d will still ultimately make sure that everything is just and each person receives the reward or punishment they deserve.

In “Ma’amar HaIkkarim”, the Ramchal writes that there are two levels to Gan Eden in Olam Haba. The first one is where all manner of physical delights and all the enjoyments of this world can be experienced. however, the upper level, the higher level, is the one in which all manner of spiritual pleasures can be experienced. I read that and wondered, why would ther ebe a place in which physical pleasures can be experienced when we see in so many places the comment that the pure reward at a spiritual level surpases the pleasures fo this world so greatly? The answer is that it is there to show those who would query the justice of Hashem. When a soul receives their reward in the world to come, they might complain, “Is this all I get? I suffered to greatly in life and never experienced any pleasures. what kind of reward is this?” To that, Hashem shows them the difference- they can experienceall the delights and pleasures of this world they did not receive- but they will realise how pale and worthless they really are after they experience the reality of the spiritual rewards. Thus the true justness and mercy of Hashem will be shown to them.

January 11, 2010 - Posted by | Parshah, Torah, Weekly Question/Issue | , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Did you delete the other question? I thought you were posting an answer? What was wrong with it?

    Comment by Diana | February 2, 2010 | Reply

    • Nothing wrong woith it- sadly I have had very little time for the blog and rather than just leave a question posted and unattended I removed it.

      Comment by marcl1969 | March 2, 2010 | Reply

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